In this post back in June I discussed an article written by Colonel Andrew Williams, USAF, about the need to preserve a commander’s authority to review, and sometimes disapprove, the findings of a court-martial. The central theme of Colonel Williams’ article was the fact that court-martial panels are not juries. Unlike any jury in America, a panel isn’t randomly selected, a panel can be as small as three people, and a panel can convict with the votes of a mere two-thirds of its members.
I just read this story from the Omaha World Herald about a jury’s deliberations that would have been impossible in a court-martial:
A jury wrestled long and hard with whether Anthony Utterback acted in self-defense the night he trailed his wife and stabbed the man who had been having an affair with her, a juror said.
The jury of six men and six women initially voted 10-2 to convict Utterback of manslaughter in the slaying of Ryan P. O’Donnell in O’Donnell’s front yard.
But in nine hours of deliberations, the two holdouts slowly persuaded their fellow jurors that the state hadn’t proven that Utterback had done anything but act in self-defense, said the juror, a 61-year-old retired Omahan.
As the courthouse closed Friday, the jurors acquitted Utterback of all charges in the Feb. 14 stabbing near 40th and Y Streets.
Had that jury been a court-martial panel, the accused would have been convicted on the first vote.
He would have been convicted even if twice as many people initially believed him innocent.